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Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Wine Country Casual ~ How to Dress for Success

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

What to wear, what to wear… Please calm down…

Think of it this way, when in wine country, do as the wine country people do… dress down.

Why, even though some wineries may be on the glossy side?

Because, we’re still just humble farmers. Instead of growing, say… lettuce, tomatoes, or string beans,… we’re growing wine grapes. When it’s all said and done, it’s still a dusty and dirty job, while in the vineyards or in a wine cellar racking wine. Most of us are just nice, down home people.

It doesn’t matter what the event is, California’s wine country events have a relaxed state of mind. Being that this state is the sixth largest world’s economy, don’t let Wine County Casual fool you, though. People out here are very serious about wine country in an economic sense; but when they’re putting on a gathering, stuffy walls come down, and the casual walls go up.

When you’re planning to attend anything related to the wine country, if it’s black tie, you’ll be told… otherwise, dress down so you’ll blend into the Wine Country Casual crowd.

This picture was taken at the Napa Valley wine auction… Get yourself a straw hat and enjoy being in wine country! Cheers!

How to Organize a Wine Dinner

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

What could be more fun than organizing a wine dinner?

Sometimes we might have in mind the wines we’d like to enjoy; while other times, it’s might be all about the food and then finding the best wines to pair with your dinner. You’ll come up with most of the wines, but be prepared. If you’re having a wine dinner, your friends might also be bringing their own bottles of wine to your party.

If those wines honestly don’t pair well with any of your foods, don’t be afraid to just put the wine away for now, and use it as a springboard for another event. Just invite the friend who brought the bottle, and explain that the wine was deserving of its own event… That will also keep your friendship intact.

 

Friends love to gather in a warm and freindly kitchen

Friends love to gather in a warm and freindly kitchen

Something to also consider is this:  are you showcasing the wines for your event? You can downplay your foods a bit. If it’s your foods that you’re showcasing, don’t make your wines so memorable that no one will even notice your foods.

APPETIZERS: Begin with a wine hour and light appetizers. Wines with lower alcohol levels have a much better acidity, and so they pair better with your lighter fare. Good examples are Brut sparkling wines, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chablis-style Chardonnays. The less expensive Chards seem to fit this bill perfectly. (More expensive ones have been barrel fermented, perhaps have stayed longer on their lees, and have a creamier style. This type of Chardonnay pairs better with entrée-type foods.) If you’re going to be serving a red wine, go with Beaujolais or a light Pinot Noir. Again, lower alcohol wines will pair perfectly with a brie, for instance.

Moving to your MEAL: Most people will serve a white and red wine, which considers everyone’s preferences at the table. But, what if you want to start with one and then move to the other? If that’s the case, begin with the white wine. In wine tasting, it is always best to start with the lightest wines and move toward the bigger, bolder flavors. Also, start with the driest wines and move toward any wines that might have some residual sugar in them. These sweeter wines fit into the late harvest category and are generally served with desserts.

SALADS: There’s an exception to the sweet wine category, and it will be a tremendous hit at your dinner party. If and when you’re serving a salad with an oil and vinegar based dressing, find a wine with only a bit of residual sugar. A delicious Gewurztraminer, Riesling, or a Symphony wine are great complements to any salad with an oil and vinegar-type dressing. (The Symphony grape is a crossing of the Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris grape. This was done by Dr. Harold Olmo of UC Davis, when he was alive and working at UC Davis.)  Just make sure that you use a bit of your wine in your dressing, too, to make it a tasty and seamless experience. Add some mandarin orange slices, because they superbly pull the entire effort together, and your guests will be wowed.

Moving to a heavier entree will now have everyone ready for that red wine. If it’s a fish dish, you can stay with white wines, or opt for lighter reds. If it’s a hearty meat dish, go bold with a Merlot, Cabernet (Franc or Sauvignon), Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, or Syrah. Go hog wild and find a Portuguese Alicante Bouchet, or serve a blended red, like our Roulé Rogue. Having some fun before your party will translate into a really memorable evening, as you talk about your wine choices and your food pairing. This way, everything is the focus.

DESSERT: Time for those sweeter wines to pair well with your sweeter dishes; the late harvests and Ports… They’ll linger on your palate and have conversations becoming quite fascinating and colorful, worthy of your wines.

How much wine per person? You can get five to six glasses of wine per bottle. If you’re going to have wine with each course, you need at least one bottle per person. Remember, if you’re doing appetizers, a salad, an entree, and a dessert, that’s four glasses of wine per person easily, headed toward a bottle for each person.

SERVING SIX PEOPLE, to make sure you don’t run out, six (6) bottles:

  • Appetizers, get at least two (2) bottles, because this is an hour event. (Bubbly + a dry white).
  • Soup or salad, get (1) bottle. (Off dry wines: Gewurztraminer, Riesling, or Symphony.)
  • Entree, get two (2) bottles, people linger here. (Any wine that will match your fare, maybe two different ones, just for variety.)
  • Dessert: One (1) bottle will do, even though it’s only a 375 millimeter bottle. Pours are very small for this one.

Have fun with your party.

Is it going to have a theme, is it a celebration of someone’s life or accomplishments, or is it just for fun to enjoy with your friends? Whatever it is, choosing the right wines is half of the fun, if you are a wine lover.

Removing a Cork Is a Piece of Cake, Honest!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

People struggle all the time, including nervous waitservers, when removing corks from a bottle, whether we’re alone or with a group of friends.

Why is pulling  a little tiny cork out of a bottle so darn intimidating?

Because very few of us in our American culture were raised on wine; so we don’t know how easy it is, unless you’re some kind of a pro who opens 20 bottles a day.

Waiters' Corkscrew

Waiters' Corkscrew

As we’re on stage when it’s our turn to remove the cork, our palms begin to sweat as we begin to insert the corkscrew’s sharp, little point. Moisture begins to gather around our hair line, as we turn the corkscrew in a clockwise motion. Then, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen next. Will we get it out, as the corkscrew descends further into the bottle? Again, it’s anyone’s guess…

Well, that used to be the case for me. Once I began to work in the wine business and that cork had to come out (because people were standing before me eager to taste the wine I was about to pour), I learned how to do it so quickly and smoothly that I surprised even myself.

Here’s how you, too, can look like you’ve opened enough corks to fill that wine barrel table you’ve created that’s full of corks. Yes, I have one; although I have to admit that 95 percent of the corks come from wineries where I worked and collected corks at the end of the day. (This makes it very easy to fill a 60 gallon wine barrel.)

1. Securely grab your corkscrew in one hand and your bottle of wine in the other.

2. Use absolute straight down aim at that tiny cork (you’re so much bigger than that cork, so you’ve got to win this battle, and you will).

3. In the absolute dead center of the cork, insert the corkscrew tip in a straight downward motion with a good little push to insert it. (Don’t angle this procedure, as that’s the REAL trick in all of this.)

4. As the corkscrew enters the cork, use that bit of pressure to make sure that the corkscrew and cork are united in harmony.

5. Without any angling of what you’re doing, begin to twist the corkscrew while simultaneously pressing downward, until all the “screw” part of it is inserted into the cork.

6. With a smooth, gentle force (you don’t want any splashing onto what you’re wearing), pull the cork straight out of the bottle. It’s all in the wrist pulling in an upward motion, too.

This is guaranteed to make you look like a pro, and the sweat will never bead up on your brow, again. (Three) Cheers!

And, welcome to Removing the Cork 102, where many producers are sadly switching to screw caps!

Denis Malbec’s Thoughts on an Organic Wine Experience ~ An Educated and Trusted Palate

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Denis Malbec of Notre Vin:

I would like to share with you one of the highlights of our Christmas dinner [2011]. From Bernhard Ott, the best Grüner Veltliner I ever had in my life… An organic wine! — with May-Britt Malbec.

A bit about Denis Malbec

For Denis, being born at Latour allowed him to daily walk in between the barrels and bike through the vineyards. This was his neighborhood. As a result, he inherently learned vineyard and winery management with his father, Jean-Noel Malbec. Jean-Noel was also born at Latour, and worked there for 47 years. His tenure was from 1947 to 1994. Jean-Noel was cellar master from 1969 to 1994.

Winemaker Denis Malbec of Malbec & Malbec

Winemaker Denis Malbec of Malbec & Malbec

Denis’s grand father, Camille Malbec, worked in the vineyard from the 1920s until the end of the 1970s. Denis spent his childhood in the gardens of Latour with his grandfather. It is his grandfather  whom Denis credits as being the influential person that connected him to the earth’s bounty. He also developed a profound joi de vivre for nature at Latour, where he daily enjoyed the gardens, vineyards, and explored the majesty of the Gironde River, which is only 328 yards from vineyards to the riverbank. As a child, Denis was closely connected to nature: birds, fish, animals, dogs, and the air.

Leaving home to find his destiny, Denis first studied viticulture and enology in Bordeaux and later in Reims, Champagne. He completed his studies with a “Tour de France” of the vineyards through internships:

  • Château Haut-Brion – 1988
  • Château Lagrange – 1988
  • Pugnac Cooperative – 1989
  • Côte de Bourg, Léon Viollant – 1990
  • Owner and wine merchant in Côte de Beaune, Duval Leroy – 1990 & 1991
  • Côte des Blancs in Champagne
  • Calvet – 1992, negoçiant in Bordeaux
  • Started at Château Latour as one of the cellar workers in 1993
  • Took the position as Enologist and Cellar Master at Château Latour in 1994, making the vintages from 1994 to 1999

Roulé Rouge is delighted to be making an organic wine. We know how delicious organic foods are, including wine. Voulez vous  Roulé Rouge?

Do Organic Fruits, Vegetables, and Wines Taste Better?

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

It May Depend on The Palate.
If you grow organic fruits and vegetables, your palate probably tells you, “Yes.”

Critics, however, do challenge the ability of fruits and vegetables to have better flavors. Some will even suggest that it’s “grown locally” that has better flavors, versus the vegetables and fruits having better flavors than those grown with less care.

Some of us have very sensitive palates. They’re actually referred to in the wine business as “supertasters.” There is a physical difference for these palates, in that the supertasters actually have a greater amount of taste buds. This might begin to explain why some among us will argue in favor of organic, at every turn. What we pick up that others don’t, will help all of mankind. Super palates have this ability, and are here to serve those who don’t have this palate with so many taste buds. We taste what others cannot, including chemicals.

Organic Fruits

To help you better understand Roulé Rouge’s commitment to organic practices, you have to imagine the following:

Imagine a teaspoon of water; now add trace elements of a chemical pesticide, an herbicide, fungicide, and a chemical fertilizer. Is that water going to taste the same as fresh spring water?

Now imagine a vine, getting all sorts of chemical treatments. The flavors of these “cides*” are what also goes into that living plant, which will bear wine grapes, never mind what it’s also going to be doing to the environment.  Can these grapes possibly taste as good as ones that are all natural? [*cide ~ a learned borrowing from Latin meaning “killer,” “act of killing,” used in the formation of compound words: pesticide, homicide, according to dictionary.com.]

Do you love the flavors that come from your tap these days, or are you filtering your water? And if you’re filtering it, why are you doing that? Perhaps for the same reason that supertasters will tell you that organic wine tastes better?

SUPERTASTER: A Matter of Taste: The Super Palate, By Rebecca A. Cooper on the The Harvard Crimson Website:

“Supertasters” are those who experience heightened sensations from food and beverages. They are extra sensitive to bitter tastes, textures, carbonation, and spice; tend to avoid foods such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and strong coffee; and often abstain from bitter beers and bold wines. They often refrain from eating rich and fatty foods because they dislike the sensation that slick, creamy foods leave in the mouth. They find the bubbles in carbonated drinks especially irritating.

The term “supertaster” was coined in the early 1990s by Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, a Yale University professor who specializes in genetic variation in taste perception. The supertasters, she believed, had an anatomical and biological basis for their elevated taste response. Scientists have long known that different areas on the tongue map to different taste sensations. Bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and savory (umami) all have their place on the tongue, and some researchers are now arguing that calcium-sensitive sites merit their place, as well. It makes sense, then, that having more tastebuds corresponds to a greater gustatory response in supertasters.

From the Organic Center:

The more intense flavors in organic fruits and vegetables probably stem from two factors: somewhat higher average levels of antioxidants, and somewhat lower average crop yields…

Organic produce tends to store better and has longer shelf life, probably because of lower levels of nitrates and higher average levels of antioxidants. The former can accelerate food spoilage, while antioxidants help preserve

the integrity of cells and some are natural antibiotics.

Super taster test:

Supertasters experience taste with far greater intensity than the average person. About 25 percent of Americans are supertasters, a group with an unusually high number of taste buds. If you love food more than most, you may have inherited supertaster genes.

Do You Hate Vegetables?

Evidence suggests that supertasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes and fattiness in food, and often show lower acceptance of foods that are high in these taste qualities. Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee and dark chocolate.

Love salt? You might be a ‘supertaster’

(Health.com) — If you love salty snacks and reach for the saltshaker like clockwork at every meal, you might think you have dull or underpowered taste buds that need a boost to get excited.

In fact, just the opposite may be true: A new study suggests that you may love salt because you’re a “supertaster” — a person who experiences tastes such as saltiness and bitterness more intensely than other people do.

“We’ve known for a long time that people don’t all live in the same taste world,” says the study’s lead author, John Hayes, Ph.D., an assistant professor of food science at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, in University Park.

“There are supertasters and non-tasters,” Hayes adds. “Supertasters live in a neon taste world — everything is bright and vibrant. For non-tasters, everything is pastel. Nothing is ever really intense.

So, what do you think? Could we actually find organic foods ~ and wine is a liquid food, don’t forget ~ to be more delicious?

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